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Personality tests – What should you use in the workplace?

Personality tests are everywhere. Whether it’s “What kind of fast food am I?” or something more serious, a lot of people love using these quizzes either for fun or to learn more about themselves. Most of the time, these personality quizzes are just harmless fun. If your results on the fast food quiz aren’t accurate, there’s no real harm done. But when you want to use personality tests in the workplace, it becomes important to use a measure that is grounded in scientific research. 

There are many different personality models, but the majority are not actually backed up by research. Even some of the most frequently used models are merely hypothetical; there is little evidence to suggest that they are reliable. Often the results can vary in even just one week! You could get one result one week, and then the next week your result might be completely different. So what should you use? The only personality theory that has consistently shown reliable and valid results is the Big Five Personality Test. 

According to this model, the five personality traits are extraversion (vs. introversion), agreeableness (vs. antagonism), conscientiousness (vs. impulsiveness), neuroticism (vs. emotional stability), and openness (vs. resistance) to experience. Everyone falls somewhere on a spectrum from 0 to 100 on each trait. When you read these personality traits, it’s easy to think that one is more favorable than another. Why would someone want to be seen as antagonistic rather than agreeable? But the truth is that there are pros and cons to each trait. High scorers on agreeableness tend to be more forgiving and cooperative. However, being forgiving does not necessarily have to be a good thing; low scorers are more demanding and may be more well-suited to make objective decisions. 

The personality traits are in no way an indication of how good of a person someone is. After all, there is a reason that all of these traits have survived evolutionarily. The most important thing is understanding these differences and the pros and cons associated with each trait. When creating a functional team, variability in personalities is important. Some people are better suited for certain tasks and ultimately, well-rounded teams are the most effective. 

Note: For more information about the benefits of each personality trait, check out this article